Home / Project / BOOST Leadership Programme

Changing housing associations so ethnic minority leaders can emerge and thrive

The BOOST Leadership Programme aims to challenge and address the under-representation of ethnic minority employees in the housing sector and remove barriers these employees face when advancing into senior roles.

Our long-term mission is to create ethnically diverse leadership teams across social housing providers in Greater Manchester that will enable us to better serve the ethnically diverse communities in which we work.

This groundbreaking, collaborative project is being delivered through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

Through a combination of reciprocal mentoring, dedicated ‘change champions’, and a series of change projects across participating organisations, the project seeks to identify and address unfair barriers to leadership and create lasting culture change that encourages BAME leaders and progression, enabling improved routes to senior roles.

Programme objectives

Building on our success: We will build on the success of our one-year pilot study, which saw senior leaders from 13 housing associations paired with staff from an ethnic minority background in disruptive mentoring relationships and supported by nominated ‘change champions’ across GMHP.

Genuine change: The new project will continue this model with the addition of a ‘change project’. Each mentor-mentee partnership will identify one organisational barrier, find a way to resolve it, implement it into their organisation, and share learning across the partnership.

Empowering improvement: Organisational processes, including recruitment, progression and handling of racially motivated incidents, will also be reviewed, and emerging ethnic minority leaders will be empowered to lead on service improvement ideas for ethnic minority tenants.

Implementing real action: The mentorships are guided by a unique ‘enquiry toolkit’ designed by researchers from MMU. They will work closely with the change champions in each housing association who will look at implementing the actions identified through the programme.

Our BOOST Leadership Programme in numbers.


of UK housing sector executive teams exclusively white


GMHP members involved in BOOST phase 1


Change Champions established to identify barriers and solutions


core recommendations to deliver lasting change

Research findings from last year’s BAME Leadership Programme unearthed obstacles and challenges our ethnic minority colleagues face in their career progression, which the partnership is committed to removing. This should not be happening, ever, but especially today, and this really pushes us on to drive the change needed in our sector. I am pleased with the engagement we have seen with the project so far and look forward to seeing its ambitions further realised in year two.

Our legacy: what will success look like?

The culture in our organisations will develop as our leaders and colleagues learn to be comfortable talking about race.

Our ethnically diverse colleagues will feel more confident to bring their true selves at work. They will feel more valued, safe and empowered to speak up with their thoughts and ideas and to raise concerns about racial bias or unfair treatment.

Our BOOST mentees will be progressing in their leadership identities, feel more ready for leadership, have robust career development plans that are supported by their housing associations and some will have progressed in their leadership careers. BOOST will enable ethnically diverse colleagues to gain experience of leadership and develop allyship as an important leadership behaviour. We will also help to raise the visibility, reputation, networks and skills of our ethnically diverse colleagues through our mentoring programme. Our housing associations will also be extending this support to other ethnically diverse colleagues so they create a strong, ethnically diverse leadership pipeline.

The BOOST Movement for Change will be growing, thriving, courageous, ambitious and effective in creating disruptive change. It will enthusiastically and creatively test ideas and create knowledge about what works to develop more inclusive organisations. It will share this within and beyond the GMHP partnership.

Leaders will act as allies who are increasingly aware of the causes of racial inequity and self-aware of their own biases and behaviours.They will act courageously and invest both time and resources in supporting ethnically diverse colleagues to progress and in innovating organisational strategies, policies, practices and cultures. Our leaders will lead learning in their organisations and in the BOOST Movement for Change. They will sponsor the BOOST programme and the BOOST Movement for Change to enable collaborative innovation across GMHP and beyond.

Our tenants and residents will start to notice that services are becoming more culturally sensitive and they will start to see more ethnically diverse leadership.


Showcase and Graduation: Sharing Learning From The BOOST! Programme (Friday 21st June 2024 Manchester Metropolitan University 1-4:30pm). Contact Patricia Fernandes for more information: p.fernandes@southwayhousing.co.uk